Whitney Houston‘s death weighed on the Clive Davis Pre-Grammys Show on Saturday night, where she was scheduled to perform. Producers decided that the show must go on, but performers, including Tony Bennett, grappled with the news of her death on stage. Many honored the late singer, but Bennett took it a step further, urging for the legalization of drugs, which he implied might prevent tragedies like Houston’s early passing. But as more evidence comes out about Houston’s death, it seems that it was likely caused by legal prescription drugs. So while Bennett’s suggestion may not have prevented her death, we do need a better solution.
Bennett didn’t ruminate on the odds or statistics, but he clearly suggested that putting drugs into doctors hands would make them safer.
First it was Michael Jackson, then there was Amy Winehouse. And now it’s magnificent Whitney Houston. I’d like to ask e every gentleman and lady in this room to commit themselves to get on government to legalize drugs. So they have to get it from a doctor, not just some gangsters who just sell it under the table.
But Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, and most likely Whitney Houston all died of perfectly legal drugs.
Although her official cause of death hasn’t been announced, TMZ reports that, despite suspicion of drowning, the family has been notified by Coroner’s officials that there wasn’t enough water in her lungs to support the suspicions that Houston drowned; it appears more likely that she died from a combination of Xanax, other prescription drugs and alcohol, echoing the death of Michael Jackson, which was caused by misuse, and ultimately overdose, of prescription drugs. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning which, though it was never administered by a doctor, is also perfectly legal and easy to obtain.
Bennett’s proposal doesn’t perfectly address Houston or others’ direct cause of death, but his point isn’t totally lost: We need a better way of regulating drug use to protect against problems like addiction and overdose. Unfortunately, the same problem exists for legal prescription drugs.
Most of us would probably agree with Bennett that making doctors the middlemen between consumers and drugs should improve safety, but evidence shows that, increasingly, it’s not. It’s surprisingly easy to get and abuse prescription drugs, and statistics show that overwhelming numbers of patients are dying as a result: Late last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released shocking data that showed prescription painkillers cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
Dr. Conrad Murray‘s guilty verdict in the Michael Jackson death trials put the issue into sharper focus, but here at Blisstree we shared another story: That of Karly Long, a young woman who died at 29 from prescription drug overdose. She wasn’t a celebrity or even caught up in recreational drug use; she died struggling to deal with her mental health and a mess of prescription drugs that ended up killing her instead of solving her problems. Doctors didn’t prevent her death, and legal drugs caused it. Which is why her mother, Penny Long, is proposing something different: A Medication Monitoring Proposal, which calls for closer regulation of prescription drugs by a third-party monitoring system, funded mostly by the pharmaceutical companies that make the drugs.
Read an excerpt from her proposal on the following page…